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NEIGHBORHOOD SCOURGE REDUCED TO RUBBLE

By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

From disgust to elation, neighbors of a blight emergency rejoiced yesterday as a garbage-filled home was bulldozed.

Any time anything like this is destroyed in any neighborhood, its good for the whole town, said Dianna Gallegos. She is the next door neighbor to 707 Meridian, a home and yard used as a dumping ground by transients for several years.

Gallegos and friend John Hopkins moved into their home on Meridian eight months ago. They have called the Del Norte County Sheriffs Office seven times to complain about the abandoned house.

Sheriffs deputies responded by running off interlopers camping and dumping garbage there, but no other action came of officers visits.

Finally, out of frustration, Gallegos called Del Norte County Supervisor Jack Reese on Jan. 3 for help.

He came out here immediately to look at it, she said.

Reese then contacted County Health Department officials who inspected the property that same day.

Crammed with every imaginable variety of garbage, the house and yard were declared a health hazard and a blight emergency by the health department.

Bids were then taken for the demolition and removal of the house last week. Contractor Skip Nolan of Nolan Construction took the job, bidding $2,500 less than the next lowest bidder.

Im doing this for cost. I want to give a message to the community: clean up your stuff. We have to start doing something about these places. It just runs down the community, Nolan said.

A 27-ton excavator was trucked from Eureka to perform the demolition. The machines arm and claw rose above the buildings second story and grabbed huge chunks of the structure and deposited them in a dump truck.

This is like Godzilla. This is just amazing, Gallegos said.

Residents of the neighborhood drove by periodically, smiling and giving the thumbs-up to Nolan.

Hes done us a favor, really, said Health Department representative Leon Perreault about the low price Nolan bid for the job.

Perreault said after clearing the Meridian Street property, the Health Departments budget for nuisance abatement will be spent.

I just wish we could get a budget and a full-time enforcement officer so we can do this thing right - instead of nickel and diming it all the time, he said.

If more properties like the one on Meridian Street are deemed a health hazard, Perreault said the Health Department will have to request more money from the County Board of Supervisors.

For that request to get on a supervisor meeting agenda, two weeks must pass, then approval for the money can take even longer.

Generally, expenditures for nuisance abatement are recovered through liens on the property in question. In the case of the Meridian house, owner Gordon Henry Jones is a wanted felon and three different liens already exist against the property.

Its a catch 22. Were a poor county, so we have places like this, but we cant afford to get rid of them. This community has to be committed to this process to get the job done, Perreault said.

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